It's one thing to send a soccer ball upfield and another to have a teammate on the other end of that pass.
The Academy of the Holy Cross soccer team's improved technical skills and soccer IQ have enabled the Tartans to push forward more effectively early this season.
That confidence in the attack was evident in Wednesday's 2-1 home win against Quince Orchard, a Class 4A West Region semifinalist last year.
The Tartans (2-0) defeated the Cougars (0-2), 3-2, in overtime in 2011.
It was the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference program's second consecutive win against a Montgomery County Public Schools team. The Tartans defeated Walter Johnson, 2-0, in their previous game.
“This year we're pushing more people forward,” said Holy Cross coach Nelson Abreu. “We're confident in making runs because we know someone is going to be there to receive it. Things have really come together with this technical team and being smart enough to get there, to know where the ball is going.”
But it took an early wake-up call to kick Holy Cross into gear Wednesday.
Quince Orchard was the aggressor early. The Cougars have a lot of speed up top and a collection of scoring options.
Wednesday it was junior Mary McMeekin who finished a chip from senior midfielder Madeline Korol into the box in the 13th minute to give Quince Orchard an early 1-0 lead.
“In the first 15 minutes we were really knocking the ball around,” said Quince Orchard coach Peg Keiller. “We were working hard and things were clicking. We're generally a slow starting team [in the season]. I think there is a lot of promise.”
With Holy Cross on its heels early, senior Shannon Spellacy gathered the team for a quick meeting at midfield before the restart.
From that point on, the Tartans were in attack mode.
Julianne Keehan took advantage of a defensive misplay to even the score at 1-1 midway through the first half.
Jillian Dunston scored the game-winning goal late in the first half, settling the ball in a defensive scramble and sending it to the back of the net.
Neither team scored in the second half but Holy Cross pressured for the majority of the period. Quince Orchard's defense did a remarkable job keeping it a one-goal game.
“[Quince Orchard] put us under pressure early, they were down our throats,” Abreu said. “Then we settled into the game. The girls were pinging the ball around, keeping it to feet. This team being more technical allows us to do more.”
Holy Cross 2, Quince Orchard 1
Quince Orchard (0-2) 1 0 — 1
Holy Cross (2-0) 2 0 —2
Quince Orchard — Mary McMeekin
Holy Cross — Julianne Keehan, Jillian Dunston
Quince Orchard — Madeline Korol